Years in the making. Best designs, best wines, best Scotch. We all know that some things may take some time to reap the benefits. Such was definitely the case on April 10 when members, family, and friends of the Houston Chapter broke somewhat from tradition of quick trips with a trip to and tour of the Houston-based Gulf Coast Distilleries that which had been years in the making. The great event was planned by individual chapter members, Michael and Cecelia Zeitlin and held an accompanying casual drive to the location as put together by Grady Owens. Years in the making? That comes from this event idea hatched a couple of years back in conversation between Michael and one neighbor who happened to be President of the distilleries, Carlos De Aldecoa. But it wasn't just an idea, it was truly a great event. As the processes for distilling and fermentation take time to refine, sometimes so does planning and timing of great events.
For a great start to the morning, more than 24 not-so-horseless carriages met at a favorite Italian restaurant, Ciro's, in the Memorial City area of Houston. Although early, members of Ciro's staff cheerfully greated everyone with hot Italian coffee that was sure to awaken everyone for the day.
After a distribution of driving instructions, the tifosi, with their eager Cavallino, set out promptly on time for their drive. This wasn't too easy of a drive though. With pandemic restrictions slowly being lifted across the country, one could not help but to encounter heavier traffic. We won't miss the reduced traffic of travel during the pandemic but, oh well, give and take. A casual drive was all that could be afforded through Houston and the group did gladly take in the city as the path led along common thoroughfares of downtown passing through the maze of high rises, past our sport stadiums, and across a few of the waterways crisscrossing the landscape. Even with a few errant Cavallino running astray from the "prescribed" route and, then for others, a freight train blocking the route, the group slowly reassembled at the distillery on the east side of the city just in time for the welcome speech. Carlos greeted everyone with a quick history of his family and how the distillery came to be. With the cavallino corralled and relaxing after their tour of Houston, they were placed in the hands of Officer Larry Boggus to ensure they didn't graze too far away and Officer Boggus also took this time to add to some video drone footage of the event he made enroute. Recognizing the large group, the staff, quickly divided the attendees into two separate tours that would have adequate time and social distancing to take in the tour and information. The split tour was especially of benefit to the staff in their efforts to easily ensure lunch orders met the expectations that were already being fulfilled with the event. Each tour started with eagerness and the tifosi entered the production side of the plant with an introduction by a tour guide taking next to a 458 Stradale artfully posed beside an old copper still which extended the thoughts of years in the making drawing parallels to recipes of fine distillations with that or Ferrari which has progressed so much and refined its recipes for automotive wizardry. Stepping past the pot still and further into the tour, attendees learned more of the distillation processes and saw first-hand the stages that libations go through as they follow their separate own (distillery) recipes to create the different types of beverages with various flavors to suit. The group learned the time, effort, and attention that goes into the separate varieties of bourbon, gin, vodka, and brandy as each is prepared for distribution and consumption alone or with meals. After completing several questions from this inquisitive group, everyone moved then to the dining and tasting area where a special treat was getting ready to unfold. For this special trip, timing couldn't have been better. Carlos and the distillery were in the last legs of preparing new batches of brandy for bottling. In recognition of our trip and tour, Gulf Coast Distilleries prepared samples from six slightly different batches of brandy and we provided two teams of tasters. We were given the privilege of tasting and selecting our favorite and after passing the various palates and determinations of this scrupulous group, we finally came to a conclusion and made our choice. This batch of choice is to be bottled by Gulf Coast Distilleries as the Houston Ferrari Club Select Brandy with our attendees given exclusive rights to the purchase. This was more than a fitting tribute for the trip! This member-planned event was so well done. It was marketed and executed perfectly with attendees coming from near and far to participate. There are definitely hopes for more in the near future and as the case for many things, years in the making, definitely has its benefits though we don't think we can wait that long. The attendees rolled out the appreciation for the event and for the comradery that it brought.
We gladly offer many thanks to Carlos and the staff of Gulf Coast Distilleries for hosting our memorable event. We thank Officer Larry Boggus of the Memorial Villages Police Department for keeping the Cavallino corralled under watchful eyes and the special drone footage he provided. Special thanks definitely go out to Michael and Cecelia Zeitlin for planning the unforgettable event and we never forget the drives that Grady provides to add more variety and excitement to the trip. Grazie Tutti!
MUST SEE Drone footage is available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOydy96NAGE